Friday, May 16, 2014

Knitting Up Rhinebeck 2012: TuckerWoods Twinkletoes

Tuckerwood Farm Bailey's Twinkle Toe yarn, "Black Orchid"

I discovered that it's helpful to approach a BIG shopping trip, whether Costco, Ikea or a craft fair, with at least a few actual goals in mind. It helps keep one from being completely overwhelmed by giant packages of croissants, tea lights or whimsical ceramic jars. Or yarn. Well, yarn is different, sort of like chocolate or earrings...

When I considered my Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool 2012 wish list, I felt I didn't have enough sparkly yarn in my life, though honestly I"m not the sparkly sort, and hadn't much felt the absence. I did have some sparkly yarn -- some rather nice Blue Heron rayon, for example -- but hadn't done much with it other than one rather uninspired "wear this on holidays" top I made from Patons' Brilliant. My dream list includes several shawls made of elegant but shiny stuff that I could fling around my shoulders for special occasions -- light ones for summer, dark ones for winter or dark outfits -- but after so many years of thinking about it, nothing had happened. I kept making sweaters. And scarves. And hats.

So I picked up a skein of pretty sparkly TuckerWoods Artisan Yarns & Fibers "Bailey's Twinkle Toes," in colorway "Black Orchid," which I found completely irresistible in both color and name. I like when fiber people give their products and patterns interesting names. It's a nice squooshy merino/nylon sock yarn with a bit of metallic sparkle spun in. The farm doesn't seem to have a website, but they have quite a large sales booth at Rhinebeck, filled with very nice yarns that include a few luxurious items.

So I found a fabulous amazing shawl pattern called Iron Maiden, that suggests using a yarn with a metallic "feel." Seemed a natural for the yarn! Alas. Oh alas. I knitted it just slightly too tight a gauge, AND the yarn fell short! So I ended up with a smaller shawl...more like a scarf. I do wear it like scarf, but I don't get to see the awesome design. So since I actually paid for the pattern, I'll have to make another one!

Iron Maiden Shawl

Friday, May 9, 2014

Dendrobium faciferum

As an orchid grower with limited space, I end up torn between wanting to stick to a (rather nebulous) wish list for orchid purchasing, and taking joy in serendipity. Attending at least 3 or 4 orchid shows/sales per year ensures a bit of both: I'll always find at least one thing I actually know I want, and several things I had no idea I wanted until I saw them.

Dendrobiums are so varied, so wondrously diverse, it's impossible to make blanket statements about them. I know several people who are sworn dendrobium fanatics for that very reason. You can experience such a variety of types of orchid all within one genus swarm! Monstrous things that resemble garden shrubs, tough little mats of nubby succulent leaves clinging to rocks, masses of slender leaves like bunches of upside-down onions, flowers that last for nearly a year, flowers that last for a mere hours, hardy beasts needing frost to provoke flowering, dainties that suffer the merest hint of cold...

Dend. faciferum was a happy happenstance purchase at a show just over a year ago, and kinda had me worried for a while that it didn't like me. This sweetie supposedly likes warm to hot temperatures and plenty of water (allowed to dry a bit between waterings though), which is no problem for me; I worried the light wasn't bright enough at the ends of the T-12 tubes. But once I switched to T-8 fluorescent tubes above it, the plant was clearly happier. Flowers commenced! Two growths made these lovely bunches of glowing orange flowers, which make quite pleasing contrast with the deep green ovary stems. They last about 10 days, so far.

Hoping for new growth soon -- repotting seems in order as the plant is a bit too deep in its current tiny pot and a couple of older growths recently yellowed and popped right off the clump.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Knitting Up Rhinebeck 2012: Spirit Trail Fiberworks "Birte"

As part of my program of impulse buying in a more "sensible" manner, at Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival 2012 I allowed for the possibility of non-variegated yarns. After all, some patterns just look better in a solid color -- especially cables. And I do like cables. And I do like hats, so I bought some heavier weight yarns that could be used for hats, and even mitts.

Spirit Trail Fiberworks makes some wonderful yarns using luxury fibers in wonderful ways. "Birte" is 75% Merino, 15% Cashmere and 10% Silk, squooshy and irresistibly soft with a subtle sheen. The lovely "Roman Bronze" color I got really looks almost metallic. Having it next to your skin is heavenly. So I made a hat. Logically, I made a pattern that shows off well in a bright solid color, and even makes sense in that particular color. I knitted owls, to wear whilst birding.